by Jim Buzzerd
WVU passes, Big 12, not so much
The West Virginia University Football Team had little trouble with outmanned Eastern Kentucky winning the home opener 56-10. The Big 12 Conference took it on the chin overall as three conference teams lost games to Sun Belt Conference teams. The biggest upset had to be Louisiana (Lafayette) beating a ranked Iowa State team 31-14. Coastal Carolina had its way with Kansas 38-23 and Arkansas State edged Kansas State 35-31. All three games were at Big 12 team’s stadiums.
Just how significant the results of those games are is yet to be determined, but it is extremely rare for three Group of Five conference teams to go into a Power Five conference and go 3-0 on a single weekend. But hey, it’s 2020 and things are just weird.
West Virginia was somewhere around a 40 point favorite over EKU which lost to Marshall 59-0 a week ago. The Mountaineers led 42-7 and played lots of players in the second half. Of course the pre game news was head coach Neal Brown suspended 11 players for the game, 10 on the offensive side of the ball. That included two starters on the interior line and the top two tight ends on the depth chart.
That would be bad news most games, but Saturday it didn’t seem to be a problem as WVU rushed for 329 yards on 51 carries. Leddie Brown and Alec Sinkfield each ran for 123 yards. Brown’s were all in the first half on 10 carries. Great emphasis has been placed on improving the run game that was abysmal last season. “That first group of linemen did an excellent job,” Leddie Brown said. “I love the fat boys. All camp, since we came back in July, I have been trying to get closer with the line.”
Saturday was encouraging, but a real test looms on the 26th when WVU plays its next game at Stillwater against highly regarded Oklahoma State. The game is at 3:30 p.m. and will be on ESPN or ABC.
Quarterback Jarret Doege had a strong day completing 19 of 25 passes for 228 yards and three touchdowns. There were a couple drops.
On defense Arizona transfer linebacker Tony Fields II led West Virginia with 10 tackles in his Mountaineer debut. “He brings a speed element to the defense that we probably haven’t had in my two years here,” Brown said. “He is still learning what to do. But he plays full speed. He loves contact.”
Fields did not start, but that designation would seem to be temporary.